The Kenai River Brown Bears continued a strong run at the North American Hockey League Showcase tournament with a 4-1 win over the Amarillo (Texas) Bulls on Friday at the Schwans Super Rink in Blaine, Minn.
The Bears moved their record to 3-2. The three wins have come on the first three days of the showcase, while the two losses came in a home-opening series loss to Fairbanks, which is now 5-0. Wednesday, the Bears topped the organization that won the 2012 Robertson Cup — the Lone Star (Texas) Brahmas. Friday, they topped the defending Robertson Cup champs.
Forward Sebastian Fuchs broke a 1-1 tie 6 minutes, 52 seconds, into the third period with a power-play goal with assists from Alec Butcher and Jake Bushey.
The power play proved to be especially effective for the Bears, who converted 2 of 7 opportunities into goals. Both came in the third period.
"It was a really good hockey game, both teams played tough, entertaining, pretty solid hard-hitting hockey all around," said Kenai River coach Geoff Beauparlant. "We were solid on the penalty kill, and (goalie) Zach Quinn made the saves he had to make."
Quinn staved off a crucial penalty shot taken by Amarillo early in the third period that kept the Bulls from taking a lead, which led to Fuchs' goal minutes later.
"That really gave us a spark," Beauparlant said.
Quinn ended an impressive performance with 28 saves on 29 shots.
Kenai Central product Zach Zulkanycz opened the scoring Friday with a quick goal only 23 seconds into the game, with assists from Matt Rudin and Sam Bratten.
Amarillo's lone goal came 1:38 into the second period on a power play, but after Fuchs' score gave Kenai the lead in the third, Jacob Davidson and Bratten added goals to seal the win. Davidson, Bratten and Conor Deal each ended up with two points.
"I think we've learned a lot from last weekend," Beauparlant said of the season-opening sweep at the hands of the Ice Dogs. "Some of the newer guys are learning what it takes to play at this level.
"We made a couple line changes, but the big thing is we're playing as a group. The depth we have is starting to show."
Kenai River will face the Brookings (S.D.) Blizzard with a 4 p.m. ADT matchup Saturday, their final game of the showcase.
Brown Bears 4, Bulls 1
Kenai River 1 0 3 —4
Amarillo 0 1 0 —1
1st Period — 1. Kenai River, Zulkanycz (Rudin, Bratten), :23. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Amarillo 3 for 6:00.
2nd Period — 2. Amarillo, Gernhofer (Ammirato, Vetter), pp, 1:38. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 6:00; Amarillo 2 for 4:00
3rd Period — 3. Kenai River, Fuchs (Butcher, Bushey), pp, 6:52; 4. Kenai River, Davidson (Berglund, Deal), pp, 11:30; 5. Kenai River, Bratten (Deal, Davidson), empty net, 19:22. Penalties — Amarillo 3 for 6:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 10-13-7—30; Amarillo 6-15-8—29.
Goalies — Kenai River, Quinn (29 shots, 28 saves); Amarillo, Delia (29 shots, 26 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 2 for 7, Amarillo 1 for 4.